As one of the world's great ancient capitals, Beijing is a must-see because it is home to some of the finest remnants of China's imperial past.
Standing side-by-side with old Beijing's crimson palace complexes are the city's impressive skylines. Beijing is a superb example of the great transformation China has undergone as it burst into the 21st century. Beijing's travel industry has forged forward after China's economic reforms in 1978, and the city is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Want to see Beijing without a Visa? See our guide to 72-Hour Visa Free Travel to Beijing.
The Chinese Spring Festival is to arrive. See our guide to Beijing Chinese New Year Activities
Beijing's invaluable cultural heritage of imperial relics has drawn millions of visitors every year, but traveling around Beijing, you are also struck by the city's modern buildings. Some of the places of architectural and scenic beauty include:
Beijing became the focus of world attention in 2008 when it hosted the Olympics, which was a symbol of both China's progress and China's traditions with high-class eye-catching facilities and spectacular ceremonies, highlighted by the super-modern Olympic Village, the Bird's Nest Stadium and Water Cube.
The green areas in and around the city are epitomized by Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills) Park. China Highlights provides a range of Beijing tours to explore China's capital city. Follow the link for the Beijing's Top 10 Tour Packages.
Although the city of Beijing is not a good place for hiking and biking due to its busy traffic, there are a many quiet routes in the areas around it for outdoor-lovers to explore.
The most popular hiking routes are the Great Wall and Badachu to Fragrant Hill routes. Beijing's Hutongs are good place for a cycling tour, and a must for most travelers to Beijing, as it offers a great opportunity to explore the old Beijing. See Beijing Biking Guide.
Beijing is approximately at the same latitude as Philadelphia in the U.S. (but drier in winter and much wetter in summer) and Madrid in Spain (though colder in winter). See Beijing Weather.
Beijing's air pollution and traffic congestion are being tackled with improved public transport, restrictions on the use of vehicles, and the relocation of factories. Daily and localized variations in airborne particle levels are great, with some days below the WHO's strictest targets. Breathing Beijing's air for six average days is the equivalent of smoking just one cigarette, which is not bad for a large developing world city.
Beijing's air quality, apart from pollutants, is greatly affected by occasional dust storms in the spring, and humidity contributes greatly to the haze in summer, which is the worst time of the year for visibility and air quality. Shutterbugs will probably find an autumn trip best for photography.
Generally Beijing's pollution is not harmful, no more than an unpleasant smell or a mild throat irritant for healthy people. If you are sensitive to pollution you could buy pick up a 3M n95 mask in Beijing for 18 yuan.